Speaker Frank Chopp confers with Republican Leader Dan Kristiansen
Speaker Frank Chopp confers with Republican Leader Dan Kristiansen

State Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Frank Chopp (D‑43rd Dis­trict; Seat­tle) announced today that fol­low­ing the adjourn­ment of the 2019 leg­isla­tive ses­sion, he will be step­ping down from his posi­tion as Speak­er of the Wash­ing­ton State House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives while remain­ing a mem­ber of the chamber.

Chopp, six­ty-five, has served as co-Speak­er (and then just Speak­er) for near­ly twen­ty years. He was just reelect­ed to the posi­tion again. Here’s his statement:

It’s been an hon­or serv­ing the state as Speak­er since 1999, and to have helped hold the Demo­c­ra­t­ic major­i­ty for so many years.

With that major­i­ty, we’ve accom­plished a great deal for the peo­ple of Wash­ing­ton. I’m proud that the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives led the way on such issues as:

  • Apple Health for All, which pro­vides health care to more than 1.5 mil­lion people;
  • Fund­ing basic education;
  • Paid Fam­i­ly Leave;
  • Mar­riage Equal­i­ty Act;
  • Vot­ing Rights Act;
  • Dream Act and the Oppor­tu­ni­ty Schol­ar­ship program;
  • His­toric invest­ments in the state’s infra­struc­ture and trans­porta­tion projects that have result­ed in tens of thou­sands of fam­i­ly-wage jobs;
  • The Hous­ing Trust Fund, which has invest­ed more than $1 bil­lion in afford­able housing.

Now, I’ve decid­ed it’s time to step aside so that I can focus more ener­gy on the issues that mat­ter most and are pri­or­i­ties for the cau­cus. I plan to serve as Speak­er through the 2019 ses­sion to pro­vide an order­ly lead­er­ship tran­si­tion, but remain in the Leg­is­la­ture as a rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the 43rd Leg­isla­tive District.

It’s been an hon­or to serve as the state’s Speak­er and to work with so many ded­i­cat­ed leg­is­la­tors on both sides of the aisle.

“There are few who work hard­er and with more heart than Frank Chopp,” said Gov­er­nor Jay Inslee in a state­ment. “He has ded­i­cat­ed his career to lift­ing peo­ple out of pover­ty and strength­en­ing eco­nom­ic secu­ri­ty and oppor­tu­ni­ty for all Wash­ing­to­ni­ans. Con­grat­u­la­tions to one of Washington’s best as he pre­pares to round out his long and notable career as Speak­er of the House.”

Chop­p’s state­ment does not say whether he plans to retire from leg­isla­tive ser­vice entire­ly after 2020, but he has plen­ty of time to make that decision.

Chop­p’s retire­ment as Speak­er sets up an extreme­ly impor­tant lead­er­ship con­test with­in the House Demo­c­ra­t­ic cau­cus for the top posi­tion in the chamber.

The cau­cus — and the state — deserve a bold pro­gres­sive leader who can build a strong work­ing rela­tion­ship with Sen­ate Major­i­ty Leader Andy Bil­lig, Gov­er­nor Jay Inslee, Attor­ney Gen­er­al Bob Fer­gu­son, and the rest of the state’s exec­u­tive depart­ment. Who will step for­ward to seek the job? We’ll keep you posted.

About the author

Andrew Villeneuve is the founder and executive director of the Northwest Progressive Institute, as well as the founder of NPI's sibling, the Northwest Progressive Foundation. He has worked to advance progressive causes for over two decades as a strategist, speaker, author, and organizer. Andrew is also a cybersecurity expert, a veteran facilitator, a delegate to the Washington State Democratic Central Committee, and a member of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps.

Adjacent posts